My gym is my home, my staff is fantastic, and the members are my second family.
Opening the gym was a challenge, in large part because of the surprise expenses that nobody told me about. To help you prepare for your facility, I thought I’d help by outlining my 5 biggest surprise expenses.
- Odds and Ends – bathroom mats, shower curtains, table, chairs, floor mat, hooks, pictures,
- Marketing (ish) – we spent a lot – realize now how unnecessary that was!
When I was asked to write about how to build a gym I was surprised that this came to mind first. Then I thought about it more and yes, this was probably my biggest surprise. We recently expanded our facility and so had to have a few new external signs made and decided to put up the logo and some of our business philosophies on the wall.
Yes–before tax–for signs.
That’s a huge chunk of money. And before you all start rattling off how important they are and you will get the money back in new business. No. You won’t. That’s old school marketing 101. Signs help people find you – when they are already looking for you.
In 5 years at our location never once has someone came in because they saw our sign (and our signs are large!). Many people have found our signs useful as landmarks to find their way to us. And that is great!
Inside the studio – having the logo all over and putting up some words or phrases that are important to your company is definitely important. But there is no measurable return on that investment. Ever. Totally think you need them and its important to foster the community feel and ingrain your brand. But, yeah, no investment return.
That was the biggest shock for sure.
You see deals all the time at Home Depot on flooring. $1 a square foot! Sure.
They you get there and it is no better than those little IKEA tables that cost $10. You get what you pay for. You can get some decent stuff for $2 or $3 a square foot. Really though, you are going to be at $ 4 to $7 a square foot. Now times that by 2000 sq ft., or in our case 5,000 sq ft.
Then add in costs for prepping the existing floor. What about glue? Underlay? Then there are baseboards, joining strips, and all the other odds and ends.
Oh, did I mention installation? Oh! And delivery?
Flooring costs a lot more than you think it will. I recommend cow stall mats. They are awesome! Cheap and minimal prep and you can drop anything on them, won’t leave a mark!
Odds and Ends
This stuff will blow your mind. For real. Maybe not while reading this. When you open your own place it will.
Think about it. Bathroom stuff alone will run a couple hundred dollars before you even get out of Wal-Mart. Toilet paper, soap, hand wash, hand sanitizer, air fresheners, little table to hold it all, picture for the wall, shower curtains.
What about around the gym? Electric air fresheners, couple of fans, pictures, shoe rack, coat rack, hangers, hooks, bookshelves, any other shelves, bulletin board.
Might not sound like much. But I don’t remember last time I got out of Staples or Wal-Mart without dropping $200. It seems like nothing but is adds up fast.
And you can’t skip this stuff! These are the little things. The things that differentiate you from everyone else. Saving a few bucks on the generic hand soap might seem like a good idea but when your clients are in there washing up they will see the generic hand soap and think nothing of it. That is terrible. You want them to see the hand soap and be like, “wow, they use this stuff!” That is how you grow a bigger better business than anyone else.
Ok, I included this because in the past we spent a lot of money. We don’t anymore. Now we barely spend anything on overt advertising. Mostly because it sucks and is completely useless.
Newspaper ads? There is a reason that industry is dying. One day, quarter page ad will set you back hundreds of dollars, on a crap page. Return on that? Not sure, will let you know if we ever get one.
Radio commercials? Can work well – if you have AWESOME creative and a big budget. I mean, you are talking hundreds of dollars a week. Expect $2000 a month for this to be at all useful. And the markets are so selective. This was years ago, now with Grooveshark and Spotify – radio will only get worse. I was on two stations for years with a twice a week ‘expert’ spot. That was golden. But you can’t buy that. I knew people.
What about print? Flyers, brochures, mail drops? Flyers look cheap and won’t work. Brochures are expensive and don’t work. Mail drops are expensive, annoying, and don’t work.
Yeah, you will have a lot of sales reps tell you how wrong I am and show you all sorts of impressive stats. We work in a stats based business, you know as well as I do that you can make stats say anything. That’s what those sales reps do. After many years and over $50,000 in advertising, trust me, don’t.
There are these new options available that will actually get you business and new customers – they are called Facebook, Twitter, and Constant Contact. Use those. Free or super cheap and where 90% of our non-referral business comes from.
Speaking of referrals – if you are going to do marketing, only market to clients for referrals. BY FAR the BEST investment of your money. BY FAR!
You won’t think much about this. Until you open up. You are going to need a computer. Maybe more. Definitely a printer, which means paper and ink.
Why do you need a computer? To access your website and online marketing but more for your business management software. Which you are going to get as a web based system (I know them all ask me for what is best!) which means you are going to need the internet.
And you will want music at your facility. Stereo, speakers, speaker wire, maybe an ipod. And with diverse clients you will need diverse music so you are either buying a lot or subscribing to a service. All this, just to play music!
And you are going to want to do before and after pictures, workout pictures, maybe some YouTube videos. Now you need a camera, software, and maybe another computer. Yes, you can use your smart phone, but just because you already have it doesn’t mean it’s free. You had to pay for that, hence cost. And don’t forget to incorporate your time into that!
Yes, all the electronics were more than I expected as well. Especially as I like the place to be able to crank up the volume for those power training days!
There is no such thing as a firm budget. Nothing will ever workout as you expect and it will always cost more than you anticipated. If you go into your own business understanding that you will be sure to avoid many heart attacks! Be ready for it and have fun with it as there is no better way to learn just how creative you can be!